Privacy and Information Security
Western Technical College carefully protects all personal information in its possession regarding students and their families. The college employs office procedures and password-protected computer systems to ensure the security of paper and electronic records. The college does not disclose its security procedures to students or the general public to protect the effectiveness of those procedures. Access to social security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) is strictly limited to those School Officials with a need-to-know.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to student educational records. FERPA rights apply to students and guardians of a dependent minor student; a student is a person who is, or has been, in attendance at the school, regardless of the person’s age. Under FERPA, a student has a right to:
- Inspect and review his or her educational records.
- Request to amend his or her educational records.
- Have some control over the disclosure of information from his or her educational records.
The directory information made available by the School is:
- Name (maiden, other, preferred, primary).
- Address (all known).
- Telephone (all known).
- Date of Birth.
- Birth Location.
- Dates of Attendance.
- Degrees & Awards Received.
- Most Recent Previous Educational Institution Attended
FERPA also authorizes disclosure of this information without the student’s consent under certain circumstances. Directory information will be provided to the public upon request unless the student files a request with the school asking to be excluded from the directory or from any other requests for open directory information from outside entities. A student may update access to their information by contacting a school employee and filing a request to be excluded from the directory or from any other requests for open directory information.
According to FERPA, some non-directory student records may not be released without prior written consent from the student. A record is any information recorded in any way, including but not limited to handwriting, print, tape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and digital image. Educational records are all records that contain information that is directly related to a student and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting on its behalf. Educational records do not include the following:
- Sole possession records (those records kept in the sole possession of the maker which are used only as a personal memory aid and are not accessible or reviewed by any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
- Medical or psychological treatment records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
- Employment records, provided that employment is not contingent upon being a student.
- Law enforcement records.
The college will disclose information from a student’s education record without the written consent of the student to staff members who require access to educational records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties; officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll; and in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid; and state, federal, and accrediting agencies as required.
Under FERPA, students have a right to see, inspect and request changes to their educational records. Upon request, the School shall provide a student access to his or her educational records except for financial records of the student’s parents or guardian; and confidential letters of recommendation where the student has signed a waiver of right of access. Educational records covered by FERPA normally will be made available within ten (10) days of the request. All records are to be reviewed by students in the presence of a staff member. The contents of a student’s educational records may be challenged by the student on the grounds that they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student by submitting a written statement to the school.
It is the policy of the school that it will maintain the FERPA disclosure code in effect at the time of a student’s last term of enrollment for former students. Furthermore, the school will honor a request from a former student, not re-enrolled, to add or delete a non-disclosure request.
FERPA rights cease upon death. However, it is the policy of the school that no records of deceased students be released for a period of five (5) years after the date of the student’s death, unless specifically authorized by the executor of the deceased’s estate or by next of kin.
If students believe that their FERPA rights have been violated, they may contact the Family Policy Compliance Office at the Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC 2002-4605. Additional information is available at www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/
Parents Rights under FERPA
At the post-secondary level, parents have no inherent right to access or inspect their son’s or daughter’s educational records, including final grades, grades on exams, and other information about academic progress. This information is protected under FERPA and parents do not have access to it unless the student has provided express, written authorization, or unless the student is a dependent as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue code of 1954.
Students can give express written permission of access to their educational record by completing the FERPA Release Form and remitting it to the school.
In emergency or crisis situations, the school may release non-directory information if the institution determines that the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
Under the authority of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, students have the right to examine certain files, records, or documents maintained by the school, which pertain to them. The school will permit students to examine such records within forty-five (45) days after submission of a written request, and to obtain copies of such records upon payment of a reproduction fee.
Students may request that the school amend their education records on the grounds that they are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their right to privacy. In the event that the school refuses to so amend the records, students may request a hearing. If the outcome of a hearing is unsatisfactory, the student may submit an explanatory statement for inclusion in the education record.
Students have the right to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education concerning the school’s alleged failure to comply with the Act.
Education records are files, records, or documents maintained by the school, which contain information directly related to the students. Examples of education records are student education files, placement files, and financial aid files. The only persons permitted access to such records are those who have legitimate administrative or educational interest.
The following items are exempt from the Act:
- Parents’ Confidential Statements and the Financial Need Analysis Report.
- Confidential letters of recommendation received by the school prior to January 1, 1975. The Act permits students to waive their right of access to letters received after 1974 if the letters are related to admissions, employment, or honors.
- Records about students made by teachers or administrators which are maintained by and accessible only to teachers or administrators.
- School security records.
- Employment records for school employees who are also current or former students.
- Records compiled or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting or assisting in such capacities, for treatment purposes, which are available only to persons providing the treatment.
Review of Records
The college monitors educational records to insure that they do not contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate. Western Technical College may destroy records that are no longer useful or pertinent to the students’ circumstance.